Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Div. 3
The six captains participating in Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 3 spoke of their excitement and anticipation at a press conference, ahead of the start of the event in Bermuda on Sunday.
Bermuda, Italy, Nepal, Oman, Uganda and the USA will lock horns for a chance to finish in the top two and progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, which will be held in New Zealand in 2014 and feature 10 of the leading Associate and Affiliate teams.
The top two sides from the New Zealand event will then advance to the ICC’s flagship event, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, where they will compete against the ten Full Members on a global stage.
Bermuda captain Stephen Outerbridge says the opportunity for qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 puts some pressure on the host team. “In 2007, Bermuda did play in the World Cup in the West Indies, so we do have that pressure coming into this event. But at the end of the day we have to play good cricket no matter what division we are in. So we just look forward to the next few days and hopefully it all comes in our favour.”
Having recently finished second at the ICC Americas Division 1 Championship, the left hander feels his side is well prepared for the event on home soil. “I think the Board has given us ample opportunity to prepare for this tournament. We did also go to Barbados in February and then we did play in the ICC Americas Division 1 Championship and then a few games against the US, so I think we’ve shaped up well for this tournament.”
Uganda captain Davis Arinaitwe, whose side is facing the host in its first match, is strongly motivated to win immediate promotion from Division 3, having been relegated from Division 2 in 2011. “As a team we feel we’re here because of one game we lost in Division 2. As a unit we feel, because we are young and the kind of cricket we play, we’re good enough to go out there and be competitive just like in any other game.”
The 26-year old off-spinner says his side is focusing on playing good cricket rather than the possibility of advancing to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: “The brand of cricket we play is kind of ‘entertainment’ cricket. We want to keep things simple as well, but ideally we want to go out and win every kind of game that we play. We’re not looking to put pressure on ourselves with the fact that it is a qualifying event or that there is relegation at stake. Just to go out there – this is Bermuda, it is a beautiful country – so let’s go out and enjoy it.”
Alessandro Bonora, the skipper of the only European side in the tournament, Italy, is looking forward to a tough week of cricket against familiar teams: “It’s quite nice in a way to return to Division 3 because we see quite a lot of familiar faces – Nepal, Oman, USA – we’ve played against each other quite a lot recently, and Bermuda in Dubai in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2012.”
Returning to Division 3 after finishing fourth at the last event, the 34-year-old top-order batsman is confident that his squad has the experience to do well, despite the extra pressure of playing for an opportunity to advance to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: “We definitely think about the qualification opportunity, as I am sure all the teams do. But we have been together for a long time. We know our games plans and we know that this group of players can implement them consistently.”
Vaibhav Wategaonkar, captain of Oman, is confident that his side is prepared for a challenging week on the pitch. “It’s a good opportunity for us to play well in the tournament, and we’ll play match by match and see how it goes in the tournament.”
The left-hander says his side is well equipped to do one better than last time, when it finished third in Division 3 and narrowly missed out on promotion: “We have a good team, and we have done well at the last Division 3 tournament, so I’m hoping for the best this year.”
“We have been working hard for the last three to four months, and we came here early – 10 days prior to the tournament. The boys are doing well and I am happy with their performance,” he continued.
For Nepal captain Paras Khadka, there is no extra pressure despite the opportunities to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: “Playing for your country is always an opportunity as well as pressure. You should be ready to handle that. We’ve been playing well, and if we play to our potential, things should take care of themselves.”
The all-rounder, who was named Player of the Tournament at the recent ACC Twenty20 Cup 2013, believes his side is well prepared for the tournament in which every match counts: “As a team, we’ve been playing pretty well. But it’s the start of a new tournament and you can’t take anyone lightly. The higher we move up the WCL Division ladder, it’s more competitive, so as a team, we’ve been playing well, but it’s cricket – you have to go and perform from ball one. In the World Cricket League, what we’ve seen is that you have to play every match with the same intensity. A match here, a match there, you never know the results. So, we’ll take it one game at a time.”
USA captain Steve Massiah acknowledged that the tough week ahead won’t be made any easier by the thoughts of qualifying for the ICC’s flagship 50-over event in 2015. “Absolutely, the team thinks about what is at stake, and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish the five other competing nations all the best. I think there’s a lot at stake and also a lot of motivation for each team competing here.”
The 33-year old middle-order batsman was delighted to be playing alongside regional rival, Bermuda, who the USA recently defeated to win the ICC Americas Division 1 Championship. “I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Bermuda the very best – being that they, like us, are hoping to represent the Americas, I think that is great for the Americas region that we have two representatives here at Division 3.”
Massiah believes that the USA squad contains a good mixture of youth and experience. “We’ve been blooding the young players for a while and hoping that they will come through. I think it’s a good mixture of experience and a lot of exciting young players who look forward to the opportunity and obviously the opportunity is here for each and every one to fulfill our dreams which is to play in an ICC Cricket World Cup.”